Mhairi Black quizzes minister on women's pension changes

Thousands of women born in the 1950s will retire later than they first planned.

Mhairi Black has called on the UK Government to justify an increase in the number of women aged over 60 claiming benefits after the state pension age was raised.

The SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South raised the matter at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.

Black said the number of women in their 60s claiming employment and support allowance (ESA) has risen by 413%.

The UK Government sped up the raising of women's pension age to 65, the same as men, leaving thousands of women born in the 1950s facing a change to their retirement plans.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign has argued women were not properly informed of the changes and have been left financially worse off as a result.

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Black called on first secretary of state Damian Green, who was standing in for May at the dispatch box, to justify the increase in EMA claimants.

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She said: "I would like to ask the minister if, without mentioning the new state pension, apprenticeships or stating the falsehood that the Scottish Government can somehow fix the problem - and given that the Prime Minister is a WASPI woman herself - how he can justify a rise of 413% in the number of women over the age of 60 in receipt of ESA because of this government's refusal to give them their pensions?"

Green told Black he hoped she supported the principle that "we need as we live longer to move up the pension age".

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He added: "She knows as well as I do the Scottish Government does have the capacity to top up welfare payments. They like to sit here and deny this but in Holyrood they could do this.

"As ever with the SNP they should stop simply moaning in this Chamber, they should go back to their own government and say 'if they want to do something they should do it'.

"They should get on with the day job of running Scotland."

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